There we were. In the middle of a hot mess. Alright, several messes. We had just returned home from the grocery store which ended in a “lovely” toddler tantrum and a shrieking hungry infant. To say I was rattled would be an understatement. As we were nearing our garage, my toddler expectantly asked me if she could finish her song we were listening to before I shut the car off. “Yes! I’ve already told you ‘Yes’ 5 times now. Stop asking or I’ll change my mind!” I barked out. And then soon after, in my impatience, I took the opportunity to shut the song off in between verses thinking that she would never notice and I had already heard enough singing vegetables for one night and we were already home and it’s was already past bedtime and and and. (I can rationalize with the best of them when I’m angry).
Once inside the tantrums picked up again, the baby was crying again, and I was still rattled. As I hurriedly tried to get the bottles ready, while trying to put groceries away, I let my frustrations boil to the top and asked my toddler “What is your deal anyway? Can’t you hold it together for 5 minutes? Why are you so upset?” (After all, I was doing such a good job of modeling “holding it together” myself. NOT!)
And that’s when she said it. She was just answering my question, but her words took on a much deeper meaning as God was gently using her to speak to my mad momma heart. Hanging her head, she managed to mumble “You cut off the Messiah Momma, and that’s not nice. You shouldn’t do that.”
“In the song Momma.” Now she was looking me straight in the eyes. “I asked if I could finish my song. You said yes. But then you shut if off before we got to the ‘Mighty Messiah that manifests miracles’ part. I love that part.” Her eyes dropped to the floor. “I just really wanted to hear it again Momma.”
And then it hit me. We were singing “Down in My Heart” in the car. And in my haste, I stopped it before it got to the “I’ve got the Mighty Messiah that manifests miracles down in the depths of my heart” verse. Cue the floodgates of Momma guilt and the pangs of regret!
I apologized quickly, let her hear the whole song once more before bed, and then rushed on to the rest of the nighttime routines. My mind was filled with the familiar voices of self-doubt and condemnation. “What went wrong? Shortly before we were having a great time singing and dancing and enjoying the evening as a family. How did it get derailed so quickly?” But when I really had a chance to calm down and breathe for a minute (holding a sleeping baby will do that to ya), her words kept ringing in my ears. “You cut off the Mighty Messiah Momma“.
She was right. But it was more than just abbreviating the song. I was rushing. I was getting flustered. I was trying harder. I was losing my patience. I was doing everything in MY power and MY strength. There was no reliance on God. I wasn’t “leaning on the everlasting arms” to carry me through. I wasn’t surrendering my will, my plans, my heart, or my thoughts. I was cutting Him off. I was running ahead. And as my three year old so aptly pointed out “that’s not nice”.
Zachariah 4:6 says ““So he said to me, “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord Almighty.”” I can’t do this in my power. I NEED His Spirit. HIS leading. HIS guidance. I need to surrender to HIS ways and let go of my agenda and my way.
Later that night the Lord gently brought me back to Proverbs 3. It’s well worn, highlighted, dog-eared, and written on in my Bible because I KEEP having to return to this lesson again and again. It starts out in verses 6-8 ““Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil. This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones.” I don’t know about you, but I could sure use some health in my body and nourishment in my bones. I don’t need to be clever or have it all figured out (wise in my own eyes), I “just” need to fear the Lord.
And just as I started to beat myself up over having to relearn this lesson for the billionth time, my eyes continued down the page to verses 11-20. “My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline, and do not resent his rebuke, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in. Blessed are those who find wisdom, those who gain understanding, for she is more profitable than silver and yields better returns than gold. She is more precious than rubies; nothing you desire can compare with her. Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honor. Her ways are pleasant ways, and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her; those who hold her fast will be blessed. By wisdom the Lord laid the earth’s foundations, by understanding he set the heavens in place; by his knowledge the watery depths were divided, and the clouds let drop the dew.” Phew. It’s okay. He’s got this. And He’s much better at it than me. And things will be MUCH better off when I listen to His wisdom.
And thankfully He wrapped this gentle correction up with verse 24, “When you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.” No more tossing and turning while I replay all my mistakes in my head. No more crying myself to sleep over my disappointments and mistakes. Just sweet sleep! Oh how I need that. I *might* even be able to listen to more singing vegetables in the morning without losing my cool…